So here is the trend: download a restaurant app or enroll in a loyalty program and receive “insert free, tasty menu item here.” We are sure you have seen this before. Maybe your restaurant is currently doing this.
But here is the question: does it work?
Looking at it through the lens of a marketer or agency, they will tell you, “getting people to enroll or download the app is a huge success! It’s called Brand Awareness/Top-of-Mind/Saturation (insert typical marketing jargon here).” Have you heard that one before? What matters to an owner/operator is: does that translate to dollars and cents for the business? I wish the answer was simple. Unfortunately, it is a bit more complicated.
The marketing person/agency is correct: Yes, downloading an app or enrolling does raise the awareness of your business. However, those are inflated numbers and metrics to base ‘success’ on.
There are sites and articles that compile where people can get free food by enrolling into a loyalty and rewards program. Like this one, here.
So what should you be looking for?
Find the metrics that have revenue associated with it. The important questions of any investment: what is my return-on-investment (ROI)? Do app downloads increase items bought by returning customers? Are users making purchases and/or appointments via the app? As an operator, you need to find the actionable data that affects the bottom line.
But on the marketer’s side, with increased awareness, your restaurant does get in front of new customers that it may not have touched before. Even getting on the list presented above still has it’s benefits: if a user downloads the app, tries the promotional food or drink and they love it, that person will come back and spend more.
We haven’t even gotten into the price of building an app. This cost can vary by vendor, so it is up to you to shop around and find the best value. Also, every business has a different budget. But, the key to remember when building a piece of technology is usability. The app needs to work correctly and be simple. Is it easy to do ‘X?’ Always think of the customer first. Trust us, if you build with a customer-centric mind, you will see the ROI. Operators, marketers, IT folk and more all get caught up in their own world. And we often think, ‘WE know what is best for the customer.’ Move past yourself and think of the user.